D-Day and the United States: History as a Tool for Cultural Understanding

In order to have a modern understanding of the nations in this world, it is important to consider how they remember their history, as these recollections are often used as a lesson, an honor, or a cultural reinforcement.

In his article about the importance of remembering the past, William Cronon expressed that “… if the past is the place from which we have come, then memory and history are the tools we use for recollecting that place so we can know who and where we are.” This sentiment is also true of nationhood and the representation of the values that form a collective identity. In the context of the United States, there are only a handful of events in history outside of the War for Independence itself that are as uniquely defining of American culture and ideals as the Normandy Landings of June 6, 1944.

The example of struggle and sacrifice in the D-Day operation invited a memory about: a) the triumph of the tenacity of freedom against tyranny, and b) the importance of success found in perseverance. These two themes are very common in American ideology and literature, and this narrative is evident in public memory of D-Day over the course of the twentieth century to the present.

The attribution of specific meanings and grand themes to D-day illustrated how the public and the community of the nation, in the words of Michael Dolski, “…draw of the past to validate the present and chart a course for the future…” Because D-Day was such a huge event, it was more or less guaranteed to be significant in public remembrance, as it was a heavily televised day with several photographers and filmmakers following the troops ashore. It is clear that most of those involved in D-day were aware that they were living history. This is especially significant because the word of veterans became gospel of what had occurred on that day. Historian Christopher Clausen suggests that no matter how hard academics push their own studies, the narrative given by the eye witness will always trump the scholarly article because they add a level of humanity to something that would otherwise be so foreign and so horrible that it would be completely un-relatable to most people. Legends and popular narratives are born from eye witness stories and the need for people to weave an event into a powerful story to be able to cope with the trauma of what happened. This is clear on D-Day, which experienced extremely high casualty rates and intense combat that, in some cases, lasted for hours.

By remembering D-day as a highly important moment to preserve liberty, soldiers were able to justify the incredible loss and chaos to themselves. Therefore, the remembrance of D-day as a narrative of the triumph of liberators became a way for Americans to reinforce their cultural image. Since it was so widespread and influenced so many people, many countries remember D-Day differently. Where it is a tale of the triumph of liberty for America, it is a lesson about the value of peace to Britain, and different yet still to Germany.

Collective memory is a powerful tool for uniting people who might otherwise have nothing in common or no interest in each other. Historian David Thelen suggests that collective memory allows individuals to validate their own experiences and feelings about it by measuring it up to the expressions of the public. It enables them to reinterpret their memories and decide which experiences are worth remembering and which ought to be forgotten.  This is especially evident in the representation of D-Day in the media, where the director’s vision of an event gets passed along to the audience and is consumed easily and widely by many people who may not have an inclination to get a second opinion on the media’s interpretation. William Cronon suggests that American common identity is inexorably linked to its famous moments in history; we see a part of ourselves in George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and the soldiers who fought to preserve freedom on D-Day.

Operation Overlord – the codename for the Battle of Normandy – was an incredibly complicated plan that included intricate naval and aerial support plans, bombardment, and airborne assaults in addition to the mass amphibious assault that took place on the Normandy shores. At this point, amphibious assault was not exactly a normal method of accomplishing invasions, so that facet of it was notable in and of itself. By 1944, many soldiers both on Allied and Axis sides were experienced combatants who were likely completely exhausted from their time in the war, or new conscripts ready to prove their glory. Although D-Day was only the initial stage of the operation as a whole, it still represented an extreme challenge because of the weather, the question of supplies, and its amphibious nature. Because Overlord was such a far-reaching plan, Allied forces had to demonstrate significant cooperation and intricate planning in relative secrecy to successfully launch an operation that required a ‘tremendous level of ingenuity’, as the Historian Michael Dolski suggests.

On top of that weight, it was understood by everyone going into D-day that the success of the operation as a whole depended entirely on this one day. Each of the landing beaches were put into the responsibility of the Allied powers respectively, with Utah Beach and Omaha Beach under the jurisdiction of the United States. American soldiers on Omaha Beach were the ‘first wave’ of the assault and suffered a huge barrage of attack from a replenished German deployment. It acquired the nickname ‘Bloody Omaha’ because it had the highest number of casualties, most of whom arrived in the 1st company from Bedford, VA. Since it was such a difficult challenge, it is easy to see how the foundation for a story about heroism and triumph against all odds could take shape. If we consider this in the context that several American stories and myths employ a narrative about success found in determination, perseverance, and hard work, it is clear how D-Day and its collective remembrance has become such a defining moment in American society.

The construction of D-day’s remembrance in public memory began on D-day itself when President Roosevelt issued a prayer for the success of the operation over the radio in America, and Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech to the soldiers. These two influential voices laid the framework on top of the foundation to establish the narrative of D-Day that we know today. In his prayer for the soldiers, Roosevelt calls upon God to bless the American soldiers who “…have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity …. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again …” (FDR) These words alone are clear enough in their representation of the values of American society. The cause moved from one to defeat tyranny to preserve the sanctity of humanity as a whole. In another part of the speech, Roosevelt begged God to allow Americans as a whole to illustrate renewed faith to Him by means of great sacrifice. The divine focus of this speech, coupled with the emphasis on tenacity and sacrifice are consistent with most grand American stories. Even the revolution is remembered with these tenets in mind.

This narrative is consistent with Dwight D. Eisenhower’s speech, which reinforced the divine role of the soldiers as it described the moments preceding D-Day as the moments prior to embarking “upon the Great Crusade.” Dwight D. Eisenhower deviated a little from Roosevelt’s prayer by attributing nobility and value to the Allied cooperation necessary to make this feat possible. However, that is more likely due to the different audiences than actual intent to forge a story. Where Roosevelt spoke to the American public, Eisenhower spoke to and of an amalgam of troops made up of several Allied powers.

Years later, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s grandson, David, wrote on the memory of his grandfather. In his article, David Eisenhower emphasizes that his grandfather was just an ordinary American man from the Midwest with a family, who reached success simply through working hard. He suggests that his grandfather knew that the war was a defining period in his life, and that future generations would look back carefully on a time where “civilization itself” hung precariously in the balance. David Eisenhower’s own memory of the event reflects the public construction; the significance of the day was attached to the preservation of democracy, freedom, and human values that were championed by the Allies. He suggests that it is remembered as an impressive feat that no other belligerent in World War II could have achieved, and for twentieth century America, it was a decisive moment of renewal and affirmation of everything that people call positive about the United States, such as civil rights, technology, moon landings, and what not. In short, it made Americans proud to be Americans.

Today, June 6 serves as a reminder of the ability of world powers to cooperate efficiently toward a singular goal, and an opportunity to reflect on the positive values of American ideology. 2014 was the seventieth anniversary of D-Day and it is remembered still with honor for the tremendous sacrifice to a noble cause. Maia de la Baume’s article “On the 70th Anniversary, the Memories of D-Day Are Replayed at Normandy” found in the New York Times describes new effort put forward by the public to reenact the landings and how it impacts veterans. The annual commemoration in 2014 was significant because it included several world leaders meeting while tensions over Russian actions in Ukraine have been deteriorating those relationships. Mr. Obama called the invasion “the most powerful manifestation of America’s commitment to human freedom” which illustrates the remaining presence and power of D-Day to affirm Western ideals, especially in times of high tension and disturbance in the realm of international relations.

This article was written by Kristina Weber, Content Supervisor of Centry Ltd.

Sources

  • De La Baume, Maia and Alissa J. Rubin. “On 70th Anniversary, the Memories of D-Day Are Replayed at Normandy” June 6, 2014. New York Times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Key Traits for Business Success

In preparing young professionals for leadership, we have no shortage of insights to help them get a leg up on their long journey. One needs only to Google “Leadership Tips for Millennials” to be bombarded with a wealth of information on how to be the most conscious and assertive person in the workplace. But are we giving the right advice? How far will confidence and a sharp wardrobe actually get you?

Alibaba CEO Jack Ma suggested that we are ignoring one vital component: Love.

Now, we aren’t necessarily talking about whirlwind romances or sappy moments in the rain here, but rather the heart and soul of what makes us human. The joy for life and drive to connect with others. Empathy, gratitude, and generosity. These are the things that should be marked at the top of all of the ‘Top 10 Traits for Leadership’ articles, because they are what define us as human and what separates us from machines.

Studies have shown that those three practices – empathy, gratitude, and generosity – are key to success in leadership and maintaining a productive, contented workplace.

Dacher Keltner, in writing for the Harvard Business Review, described how US senators who used emphatic facial expressions and tones of voice when speaking to the floor got more bills passed than those using domineering or threatening gestures in their demeanor and speeches. Newly formed groups that express appreciation for one another are more likely to feel a stronger connection to each other months down the road. When managers take the time to thank their employees, they are more likely to work harder. Organizations that provided an opportunity to donate to charities typically had more satisfied and productive employees.

Where it sounds like this might be another item added to the very full plate of the modern business leader, Keltner gives a few examples of small, split second decisions to reinforce these positive feelings:

  • For expressing empathy, try active listening. Use your body language to show the other person that you are listening to them and value what they are trying to say. This can be done by physically orienting your body toward them, and making eye contact.
  • To practice gratitude, remember to thank people for a job well done. And this isn’t just a quick “Thanks!” thrown in at the end of an email. Try to make it a complete statement – “I really appreciate that you were able to help me with this project at the last minute!”
  • For generosity, this might be illustrated in taking a quick moment to give praise, or to share the limelight when you get celebrated on a good job – did other people help you? If so, share the love and make sure you give them credit!

Some of these tips can be difficult to utilize when working with colleagues in other countries, because they are not physically there to get the clap on the back or to read the body language. This can be compensated for with good communication. Be specific and articulate. This is especially important over text, where people have no cues but the written material to infer a greater context for the situation. All of these practices are just the product of a moment’s thought, yet they carry a priceless benefit.

This article was written by Kristina Weber of Centry Ltd. For more content like this, follow us on Twitter @CentryLTD!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whoops! When Data Storage Goes Wrong

The threat of the rogue actor using malicious software to take down a network is but a fraction of the ways information security can be compromised. We have been taught to view this nameless hacker as something of a boogeyman, out to steal our data and credit card information. While these attackers do exist, what about the situations where the gap in security is not the product of an offensive by this boogeyman, but rather one of your company’s own employees? A person who passed the background check, interview, and earned their position for their qualifications?

Sometimes data breaches can happen accidentally, or as a result of carelessness and negligence chalked up to ‘human error.’

Files for Sale

Nearly 200 data breaches affected local authorities in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire in the UK between 2014 – 2015. These breaches had a variety of sources, but most were the fault of human error, such as instances where emails and letters containing sensitive information ended up being misaddressed, or situations where portable devices with confidential data were lost, case misfiling, etc.

Notable among these was an instance where Norfolk County Council sold a filing cabinet after an office move. However, the cabinet still had the confidential files inside. The council said the information in it was retrieved from the buyer within an hour of it being reported, and they made checks to ensure that no files had been left in other cabinets that were sold.

Little Boxes

Andrew Valentine of Kroll wrote about a specific case where a client that was a retailer with several stores had been provided a Common Point of Purchase (CPP) analysis from its bank. This analysis indicated a high possibility of fraudulent activity at various locations, which suggested a data breach of customer card information.

Whilst investigating this breach, they uncovered another leak of sensitive information. What they found was that the employees would print customer transaction information in hardcopy and keep these printouts in cardboard boxes at the retail sites. Some of the customer information that was vulnerable on these printouts included their name, payment card number, expiration dates, security codes, etc. It was basically a hand out of all the information that one would need to conduct fraud.

Meanwhile, the retailer’s security personnel had no idea this was happening. It went under the noses of the Store Managers. But, some of the employees recognized the wealth of information at their fingertips and started stealing it. Ultimately in this situation, the discovery of the thievery with the hard copies was tangential to the anomalies revealed by the CPP analysis – the company was leaking information both from the inside and out.

In this situation, the hard copies were stored as a backup measure or ‘just in case,’ and unfortunately it led to the data being compromised.

(F:) Mishap

When an employee was leaving the agency, data for approximately 44,000 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. customers was leaked when the information was downloaded to a personal storage device “inadvertently and without malicious intent.”

The above quote was from an internal FDIC memorandum obtained by the Washington Post. While the document did not specify what kind of information was taken, it did describe that the former employee had legitimate access to it as a part of their job. Later, the employee signed an affidavit indicating that the data was not used in any way. To prevent a situation like this happening again, a spokeswoman for FDIC said that the agency was in the process of eliminating the use of portable storage devices by employees.

Lesson Learned

It is easy to make mistakes such as those outlined in the examples above, and these primarily happen when there is no established protocol for handling sensitive information, or lone actors are negligent or careless. Data breaches can be incredibly expensive for a company and damaging for an individual, so it is in both the business and customer’s best interest to ensure that information remains safe and secure. Even when the risk seems infinitesimal, it is better to be safe than to have to pay the price for a moment of error!

For any questions or comments on this, please feel free to contact us on any of our social media platforms or on our website!  

Travel Risk Management

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Whether it is to attend a networking conference or to meet with a new client, people often travel for work. Here at Centry, we do it a lot.

Most of the time, these trips carry on as expected with maybe a small hiccup in conveniences here or there. But what happens when things go wrong? Any number of situations could arise with permanent consequences – does your organization have a plan for this?

Here are a few things your business should account for when sending employees abroad:

Political or Civil Unrest

It is important to stay afoot of the political happenings of your destination city and country, as it may offer insight to the wellbeing of the populace. In countries with great controversies, protests may occur in various forms and while some are peaceful, there are others that are met with violence. Notably of these, the Charlottesville protests that witnessed a car driving into a group of counter protestors and the police action in Spain responding to the Catalan independence vote.

Terrorism

Acts of terror remain an enduring threat as terrorists are increasingly finding different methods of attack. They often seek out ‘soft’ targets – that is, civilian events and places that will yield the highest casualties and psychological impact. These can be anything from high profile public events such as demonstrations, sporting contests, concerts, etc. to hotels, restaurants, schools, malls and places of public transport. Police in the U.K. released a video giving instructions to “run, hide, tell” in the event of a mass public attack, instructing to run first, hide if you cannot run to safety, and when you are safe ‘tell’ – that is, call the police.

Environmental Disasters

Prior to traveling, familiarize yourself with the weather patterns and environment of the destination season. Whether it is a hurricane, monsoon, tornado or earthquake, you should be knowledgeable of the disaster protocol to follow in the event of one of these circumstances.

Medical Preparation

Ensure that you have all of the proper vaccinations and have taken sufficient preventative measures for diseases that can be contracted abroad. Tapwater, for example, may not be sufficient to drink or strains of bacteria may be present that the locals have adapted to but you as a traveller have not.

Traffic Norms

An unsung risk whilst traveling abroad is that of failing to abide by the traffic norms of the destination country. This is not an issue if you are primarily being transported by a local driver, but understanding the traffic laws and pedestrian laws of the country is vital to ensuring safety in a vehicle. This can also extend to being a pedestrian around cars, where laws to protect pedestrians may not exist or drivers may disregard them.

Crime

It is helpful to be aware of what areas to avoid when traveling in cities to lower the risk of crime such as muggings or other attacks.

Centry Ltd. has solutions for journey management. Feel free to contact us if you have questions or comments, or visit us at our website for more information!